Online CRMs are the most popular solutions for customer relationship management (CRM) today. They're also called cloud-based CRM systems: that means that the actual guts of the information is stored on an outside server, instead of on your personal computer or on a server in your office.
There are a number of good reasons for any business to move their CRM system online. Here are five of the biggest benefits:
Providers of online CRM tools take security very seriously. They have to: they store sensitive personal information, and their business depends on keeping that data secure.
If it seems odd to store the lifeblood of your business—your contacts in the cloud, think of it this way: which offers more security, a server you run yourself (one that's probably connected to the internet) or a specialized company that uses deeply sophisticated data safety measures?
The best online CRM companies protect their data centers with security that includes physical, technical, and sometimes biometric systems. Cloud-based CRM systems also carry full disaster recovery plans that include redundant hardware with failover capability. Security at this level is well beyond what most small or even mid-sized businesses can build for themselves.
When you switch to a cloud-based CRM platform, your records and data are protected by the most sophisticated measures available.
The best online CRMs deliver their tools right to the palm of your hand. Have you just met a potential customer at a conference? Great! You can enter their information into your mobile app and fire off an automated campaign.
If your business is large enough to have multiple team members who are on the road or just one on the go, mobile access makes it easy to check a customer’s records before heading into a meeting. Even if details just changed that morning, they'll have the latest. That simple up-to-date sharing is one of the biggest advantages of online CRM tools.
As any small business grows, it reaches an information tipping point. In early days, details about customers and prospects were kept on spreadsheets, on sticky notes, or maybe just in the owner's head. But as numbers grow, those systems can't keep up. This is a good problem to have! But it also presents a challenge: how to give customers the same level of personal care and respect while scaling up.
Answering this challenge is one of the key value-adds of a good CRM system online. It will help you segment your existing customers and sales prospects into any number of profile fields, so you can send them messages that closely match their needs and interests.
Let's say you have a retail clothing store that sells to people of all ages. You may want to segment your users into distinct audiences: as simple as customers under 30 or over 60, or as complex as dads aged 25-34 who are interested in hiking, live in a certain ZIP code, and have twin toddlers. You can then use these profile points and merge-fields tools to send custom emails that speak precisely to people in those audiences.
Most cloud-based CRM systems provide several levels of automation that will send these custom emails according to parameters you set: after the first meeting, in a series of monthly drip emails, or whatever works best for your business. Put it all together and you can...
If you keep track of customer information in-house, you've got backup worries. Laptops can be lost or stolen. Hard drives can develop glitches at the worst times. That trusted four-year-old server in the closet can fail.
Any of these events will leave you without the customer records you've worked so hard to build—and with limited ways to restore or recreate those records. Whether the cause is a natural disaster, a failed backup, or a dreaded hack, you may be out of luck and even out of business.
It's rare a small businesses can develop its own backup procedures. If you've done so, well done! But do you test your systems regularly? Are regular testing and upkeep the best uses of your valuable time?
An online CRM frees your company from those daily backup concerns. The CRM provider tests all backup and restore procedures regularly. If anything happens to your own network, or if your office loses power or suffers a natural disaster like a flood, your data is safe and sound. Your customer connections and your business can continue on without interruption. In this regard, the best online CRM systems are like insurance: you won't see their true worth until something happens.
Another common issue: what if an employee leaves? Without a CRM, exiting employees may have customer information stored on their personal tablet, laptop, or mobile device—and that valuable data walks out right along with them. An online CRM keeps your valuable and sensitive data where it belongs: with you.
It's easy to buy a book on Amazon or a pair of shoes on Zappos; you don't need training to do it. That kind of user-friendly interface is also what your small business should expect from a CRM system online.
Advanced enterprise-level CRM software may have processes designed for larger companies with IT specialists on staff. In contrast, most small and mid-sized online CRM suppliers design their software to make it easy for employees who wear many hats.
Users typically start in a personalized dashboard that calls attention to important tasks. You and the members of your team each see only the information needed. That gives you the power of CRM without the complications of an enterprise system, making your life easier and letting you focus on building a successful business.
These are five of the best reasons to choose a cloud-based CRM system, and there are many others. The bottom line is that an online CRM reduces risk as it adds marketing power to your business—from streamlined messaging and mobile access to information security and hassle-free data recovery. CRM tools help you grow your business and grow with you as you do.
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